Construction Delays: Common Causes and How to Maintain Success


Construction delays can present themselves in a wide range of ways. Sometimes, projects face a deadly combination of multiple delays that can jeopardize the entire project if not handled swiftly and precisely. A 2020 report on global construction disputes placed the average value of a construction delay dispute at a mind-blowing $30.7 million, with an average dispute reconciliation period of 15 months!

However, with a concerted effort toward coordination, planning, and communication, delays can be mitigated and project success maintained. Let’s look at some of the most common construction delays and just a few of the ways to minimize the impacts and drive projects to success.


Commons Causes of Construction Delays

Every construction project is different, and the complexities, intricacies, and details present what can seem like limitless opportunities for delays. Here are six of the most common delay offenders. 


Permit Approvals

When a project design is complete and contractors are on board and itching to break ground, a delay in securing permits is a legitimate frustration to the entire project team. Whether the permitting process lags due to failing to submit applications on time, lengthy jurisdiction review, or a myriad of other possible reasons, a delayed starting date can significantly hamper the entire project’s schedule. 


Budget Constraints

Budget conflicts are one of the most common causes of construction delays: a contractor’s poor estimate, a project design that exceeds the budget, or an owner running out of funds. When the money stops flowing, so do the labor, materials, and equipment. Contractors aren’t keen to work if they aren’t getting paid, but clients aren’t eager to pay more than they originally budgeted. Delays like this leave the team scrambling to develop a solution that everyone can agree to. 


Material Delivery and Supply Chain Shortages

The previous two years have presented unprecedented challenges to the construction industry. The worldwide constriction on materials due to COVID-19 has hindered contractors’ ability to deliver projects on time. Delays due to shortages and supply chain demand can quickly and negatively impact a project schedule, potentially leading to increased costs to recover the lost time and, in some cases, liquidated damages if the project is not completed on time. 


Changes in Scope of Work

A project’s original scope of work dictates its completion dates. When the scope of work is either poorly defined or extensively added to, a schedule delay is right around the corner. Design modifications and additions are all but inevitable on almost every construction project, but wholesale changes throw a giant wrench in the original project duration and budget.


Communication Shortfalls

When it comes down to it, nothing works on a construction project if there is a lack of clear and open communication. A project that lacks commitment to solid communication by all parties involved is prone to substantial delays at some point along the way, and consistent communication breakdowns will delay a project faster than almost anything. 


Weather Impacts

Technology in construction has come a long way, but the ability to control the weather is one tool you simply won’t find in anyone’s tool belt. Mother Nature is often unpredictable, making weather events challenging to plan for. Freezing temperatures, heavy rain, and extreme weather can all delay a construction project and, in some cases, cause severe damage that causes even further delay. 

Minimizing Delay Impacts and Driving Project Success

Every construction project is susceptible to any number of the above delays. Selecting an experienced general contractor like CDO Group could make or break a project with schedule constraints. Here are a few ways CDO Group minimizes the impacts of delays and delivers successful projects despite adversity. 

Plan Ahead

A bit cliché? Probably. But while some delays are beyond the contractor’s control, most result from inadequate planning and management. An experienced construction management team takes a proactive approach in all project phases. Proper planning and risk management during permitting, budgeting, and material procurement will mitigate the number of times a delay wants to raise its ugly head. 


Contractual Preparation

CDO Group prides itself on putting relationships first. Prioritizing and maintaining our relationships with construction partners always comes first, even if that means, at times, that the construction contract takes a backseat in dealing with a dispute. However, a sound construction contract is vital in dealing with delays. Contracts allow the team to establish a game plan for managing unforeseen delays before they occur, make it easier to deal with a problem as it arises, and clearly define the fair allocation of cost impacts from a delay.


Transparency in Communication  

We’ve said it before. The most critical aspect of construction management is communicate, communicate, communicate. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news, but ignoring a potential schedule issue only worsens the problem. Encouraging and leading the charge in open and transparent communication empowers participants to inform the team of an issue as it surfaces, helping the team handle a delay before it spirals out of control. 


Keep a Level Head

If a delay occurs, being unreasonable about it doesn’t solve anything. It usually causes even more issues. Delays are frustrating and can drive a stake in a project schedule or budget, or both, but keeping a level head and working toward a fair and reasonable resolution will help keep the project on track. 

Construction delays are uncomfortable. They can lead to sleepless nights for a contractor or construction partner who takes pride in delivering successful projects on time. However, an owner's best friend is a general contractor who knows the common causes of delays and takes a proactive management approach to the entire project. 

CDO Group is equipped for effectively managing all construction phases, prepared to handle delays, and committed to driving projects to success even amid challenges. Contact us today to discuss how we can help with your next project!

February 10th, 2022 |